In 1989, Charlene Godley, Barry Wilkes, Johnny Zoucks, Gary Dodd, Billy Jones and Dr. Whitman Fraser formed an ad hoc committee to establish an organization promoting faith-based programs.
“Rather than trying to recreate the wheel, we sought council from the Young Men’s Christian Association,” Wilkes said. “We arranged a meeting with Yancey Watkins, then director of the YMCA of Savannah, now Coastal YMCA of Georgia, to explore the possibility of bringing Y programs to Hinesville.”
During one meeting, the group brainstormed ideas for Liberty County aquatics programs.
“The general consensus was, we’d ask to use area private pools for the YMCA to teach swimming and to conduct other aquatics programs. We wanted to buy time to determine how to raise funds to build a program,” he said.
“What’s it going to take to build one?” Fraser asked.
Later, Fraser talked of a plan that entailed more than just building a swimming pool. So Zoucks, Jones, Moore, Watkins and Randy Bugos, assistant director of the Savannah YMCA, accompanied Fraser to newly constructed YMCA buildings in the Southeast, all with indoor aquatics facilities.
Soon after, Fraser announced plans to donate funds for a multimillion dollar YMCA complex on Mary Lou Drive in Hinesville. It would include an indoor Olympic-sized pool, jacuzzi, steam rooms, gymnasium and facilities for aerobics, weight training and dance.
The facility was dedicated in 1996, a year after Fraser died.
“But his legacy lives on within the YMCA and in the memories of those blessed to know him,” Wilkes said.